I have always been a great lover of Johnoy Danao’s versions usually with great rhythm that also catches a great deal of the original. There’s so much to admire about this artist: his songwriting skills, musical styles and the endless fun of listening to his musical prowess.
We have learned a number of things about Johnoy Danao during his album press launch: his eternal love for guitars, his jaunty melody proving his timeless songs and his signature acoustic setting thus allowing his voice to be more expressive.
Johnoy Unites with Universal Records
“Releasing an album independently was a great experience for me,” admits Johnoy as he explains his genuine intentions in joining the record label. This is his first solo album under a major record label. “But I realized that working with a label gives me a chance to reach a wider audience. Magiging masaya ako kung maririnig ito ng bawat Pilipino sa mundo.”
The good relationship of Johnoy and Universal Records (UR) started during the PhilPop 2013. “Ang relationship namin ng UR ay nagsimula noong sumali ako sa PhilPop last year. Nilapitan ako ni Sir Ito Rapadas (album producer) at tinanong kung mayroon akong mga materyal. Ang sabi ko naman, “Bakit hindi?”
Johnoy’s PhilPop 2013 Experience
“Sa entry kong “Kung ‘Di Man” na interpreted by Ney, na-realize ko na mayroon pa lang mga kanta na puwede namang kantahin ng ibang artists. Ipinush ko talaga na ako na lang ang kumanta kasi kumakanta naman ako talaga. With PhilPop experience, natutunan ko with Universal Records na may singer at may songwriter. Para sa akin, as long as mabibigyan ng justice o maaangkin mo ang kanta, ayos lang sa akin. As an artist, puwede mo rin ipaubaya sa iba ang ginawa mong kanta, na puwede mo ibigay sa kanila iyong pagpo-promote ng music habang puwede akong mag-concentrate sa pagsusulat ng kanta,” narrates Johnoy as he shares what he learned during the PhilPop 2013.
Johnoy as a Composer
His songwriting is his true strength along with a good rhythmic feel. For me, he resembles a modern day Rey Valera in terms of producing quality love songs. His trademark love songs charm Filipinos across the world, his large online following testifies for it.
Just like what Sir Jim Paredes (APO Hiking Society) told us during the Pinoy Music Summit, what OPM needs now is an album that has a Pinoy sound featuring the story of Pinoy itself (tunog Pinoy na may istoryang Pinoy). And this album by Johnoy Danao defines it.
“Puntirya ko sa pagsusulat ay iyong puso ng tao. Maririnig sa tenga, didiretso sana sa puso,” tells Johnoy. In every way, he’s the industry’s Johnoy Danao; a coy, level-headed and simple dressed man, always entertaining onstage, whether it’s an acoustic segment, recorded or live performances.
He sets the standard for the modern acoustic guitar, resonating rich, mellow and passion for the romantic in all of us. While all 10 tracks were nicely penned by Johnoy Danao, he shared some of his inspirations and pretty wonderful influences. “Ang pagsusulat ng kanta wala naman talagang guide na sinusunod, bigla na lang darating ang linya. Tapos bubuuin na lang iyon kapag nagustuhan ko ‘yung thought, idea o line. Ang pinakamatatawag ko na guide ay iyong mga pinapakinggan kong artists katulad ni Gary Granada at Eraserheads. Sila ang bar na gusto kong abutin.”
The Sound Creation Process
“Sa bawat kanta sa album, ang lyrics ng kanta ang nagdidikta ng tunog. Halimbawa, ang “Aking Mahal,” ay isang love song na gustong mangharana. Ganoon lang ka-simple ang arrangement. Gitara lang ang gamit na parang kinakantahan ko lang siya sa harap niya. Mismong iyong kanta ang nagdidikta ng final arrangement kaya ko rin tinawag ang album na ito na Samu’t-Sari kase iba-iba,” adds Johnoy.
The 12 Tracks of Samu’t Sari
Samu’t Sari opens with “Buntong-hininga,” featuring a stunning flute and acoustic guitar instrumentation and smooth vocals. It talks about looking for someone with a feeling of deep or natural affinity. “Salamat Sinta” on the other hand is undoubtedly stealing hearts because of its jazzy tunes performing odes to love and romance.
It is followed by “Aking Mahal,” a brilliant romantic song which is a perfect love song. “Mayroon akong kasintahan ngayon na mahal na mahal ko. Siya iyong “Aking Mahal.” walang iba pa,” states Johnoy. This is the song I’ve told Johnoy that I accidentally heard on Spotify. “Para akong niyakap ng kanta mong “Aking Mahal,” which was my instant reaction after listening to this song for the first time. He was flattered about it.
“Bilog Ang Bola” has catchy lyrics and brassy soft beats about taking chances and challenges. Another great storytelling song is “Malayang Bilanggo.”
A highlight of the album is the soothing ballad “Bakuran” that features soaring harmonies with Aiza Seguerra. This dream collaboration talks about being in a platonic relationship. “Sundo” and “Beer” are covers, Johnoy’s most requested songs during live gigs.
His own version of “Kung ‘Di Man” is also included in the album which also won as the 1st runner-up in last year’s PhilPop. Johnoy’s proudest among the songs from the album is the festive tune “Salubong,” a lighthearted song about pet appreciation. It has an astounding percussions by Brigada. “Hindi ko ini-expect na makakagawa ako ng kantang para sa aso.”
Easy-listening “Dapit-hapon” has a distinct psychedelic guitar sound which speaks about a lost love. “Ikaw at Ako” is a bonus track, perhaps the most notable Johnoy Danao song. “Naisip naming isama ang kantang ito kasi ito iyong masasabing kong commercially-successful na kanta ko. Hinanap ko kasi iyong kanta na magtatawid sa akin, na mare-recognize nila iyong artist sa kanta,” denotes Johnoy.
Kahit na personal na mga kwento ko ay parang sumasalamin din sa kanila, sa ating mga Pilipino. Kung paano tayo magmahal, kung paano tayo mabigo o kung paano tayo makipaglaban. Una nilang maririnig ang musika at boses ng kumakanta. Sa proseso ng pakikinig nila, ang lyrics ang kukuha ng atensyon nila kasi nandoon ang kwento. Hopefully, iyon ang maging effect.
Overall, Johnoy succeeds on his latest studio effort. If you’re a fan of folk or pop acoustic, then this album is for you. Samu’t Sari’s original vibe makes it highly appealing. It consists of 12 tracks in total, which for true fans may be short, but for music listeners who are just discovering Johnoy, this CD is a great introduction and addition to their music selection, as it also gives them a sense of artistry and pride.
The latest songs are the strongest he’s written to date, with Johnoy’s signature singing styles, terrific hooks and melodies all throughout. The best part of the album Samu’t Sari is the feeling that you’re listening to this talented musician perform his heartfelt tunes within the walls of your own home — but with incredibly impressive acoustics and instrumentation.
Johnoy Danao’s Samu’t Sari is now available in record bars nationwide and can be downloaded through iTunes now!